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Whoa, Momma!

Sharon Kennedy Wynne, Tracey Henry and Suzannah DiMarzio

Cat Cora cooks for family at Disney's new restaurant




Celebrity chef Cat Cora shifts her son to her opposite hip as she introduces one of her dishes at the grand opening of  “Kouzzina by Cat Cora” at Disney’s Boardwalk. Her other three sons are at the large table in front of her, sleeping soundly in a stroller or being played with by the many family members gathered together for her big day. The toddler tries to reach for his mommy’s microphone as she laughs that this is how we Moms all cook -- surrounded by and for our families with babies on our hips.

Over a steaming plate of Cinnamon Stewed Chicken, Cat explains that this dish was a family favorite when she was growing up, and that it was the special meal request for birthdays and holidays. Cat’s mother nods in agreement as she stops by each table to greet the guests. She steals a piece of cheese from a diner’s plate, “That’s real Mizithra cheese! That’s great!” I want her to adopt me.

The Mediterranean-inspired menu was designed by Cora and incorporates some of the dishes her close-knit Greek family of restaurateurs cooked in her childhood home of Mississippi. On it you’ll find some Greek staples but presented in Cora’s clean and simple style. The Greek salad is a familiar flavor, but instead of iceberg lettuce -- which climate-ly defies the Mediterranean region -- it is served over arugula which lifts the salad up to the peppery place it belongs. When you plunge your fork through the fluffy and crispy top of the Pastitsio -- a Greek lasagna -- the unmistakable scent of cinnamon wafts cheerfully from the soufflé cup. There are mini lamb burgers, oven-baked Gigantes beans, Spanakopita and of course, Baklava. She even has sautéed Brussels sprouts which she promises won’t be the disasters we ate growing up, (I thought my mother ruined my palate for sprouts from Brussels, Brazil or Belize) and indeed she even makes those tasty.

While it may not be Cat herself in the Kouzzina’s kitchen every night  -- after all, she is quite busy back in California with her own wine label (Coronation), serving as the executive chef at Bon Appétit, and that whole being the only female on Iron Chef -- you can certainly taste her talented and delicious presence in every single dish on the menu. Kouzzina, which means kitchen in Greek, is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and offers a child’s menu as well.

But that’s not what makes the restaurant kid-friendly.

It’s the restaurant’s dedication to encouraging people to sit down for long, loud meals together over delicious food and drink that makes it so family friendly. 

-- Tracey Henry, the Suburban Diva

[Associated Press of celebrity cher Cat Cora and her new best friend Mickey Mouse]

[Last modified: Thursday, May 13, 2010 11:03am]


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